Iowa Congressman Tom Latham is touting a plan that would let veterans who don’t live near a Veteran’s Administration hospital or clinic get treated at a facility near their home, and still get that care covered by the V-A.
Latham calls his proposal the VALOR Act. Latham says veterans shouldn’t have to drive long distances to get the health benefits they were promised for serving their country. His proposal would have the V-A pay for the treatment veterans receive in their hometowns.
Latham says a lot of World War II veterans are frail and in poor health, and it’s difficult for them to drive to a V-A hospital or clinic. For example, Latham says a veteran living in Sioux City has to drive nearly 100 miles to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to reach the closest V-A hospital.
Latham cites Veterans Administration figures which show there are nearly 25 million veterans living in the U.S., but last year only five million of them received health care in a V-A facility. Latham concedes it will be an uphill battle to make the changes he suggests.
“I’m sure we’ll get some push-back from some of the veterans organizations
who understandably…don’t want to put (V.A. facilities) in jeopardy. Nor do I, but we’re going to have to…understand the situation in Rural America today where people simply cannot travel that far for health care,” Latham says.
Current federal guidelines severely restrict the V-A from paying for medical care that veterans get outside the V-A system. Latham has also sought to get the federal government to provide National Guard and Reserve soldiers with health care benefits after he discovered 40 percent of Midwestern Guard members don’t have health insurance.